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NFL Player & Coach Tell Fizz Donovan McNabb Has Football Left

Syracuse legend Donovan McNabb is on the move again, swapped to the Vikings for late-round draft picks. Last season, D-Nabb was traded from the Eagles to the Redskins and The Fizz asked if the Orange icon doomed himself.

At the time, we wrote the greatest quarterback in program history may have been too nice for Philadelphia and that a place like Minnesota (yes, we named it specifically) might be a better fit.

“The legends rip their receivers and bark at their coaches and command the locker room. That’s not in McNabb’s DNA. And possibly in a town of polite hero worship like Kansas City or Minneapolis or Seattle, McNabb would be the perfect quarterback.

But Philly can eat you up. And McNabb allowed himself to get eaten. The Eagles won’t do better than D-Nabb. But D-Nabb might have been able to do better for himself.”

Coming off a tumultuous year, the looming question is what does he have left in the tank?

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In the modern day NFL, a QB completing 60% of his passes is a must. In McNabb’s best 10 seasons he completed 59.4%. Last year? He was at 58.4%, just a shade below. So what was the problem? His touchdown/interception ratio.

McNabb’s most effective season was ’04, when he threw 31 TDs to just 8 INTs. But in the last three seasons, that ratio has consistently dwindled. In ’09, he went 23-11. Donovan threw 22-10 in his final year in Philly (’10). And then last year he was a disappointing 14-15 in his only year with the Redskins.

It was the first time in his career D-Nabb had a negative TD/INT ratio. Add 7 fumbles and you start to understand why he was benched for the last 3 games of the season. (Despite the alternatives being John Beck and Rex Grossman.)

The Fizz spoke to a coach who was with McNabb in Washington last season who tells us Donovan was in personal turmoil.

“I don’t think he ever got over being traded in the division. In the NFC East, there’s real hatred there. It’s like college. Those teams just don’t like each other. He just didn’t seem right all year.”

According to the coach, McNabb also struggled with terminology at times after 11 years of playing in the same system under the same coach.

“Quarterbacks, when they call a play, have a diagram in their head. So let’s say we called ‘322 Y Option.’ A diagram comes up in Donovan’s head, but that play he associates with ‘322 Y Stick.’ So when he gets to the huddle he says ‘322 Y stick’ and the guys are looking at him like ‘what the hell is that?”

The coach says he’s talked to McNabb this summer, had dinner with him a few times and D-Mac was back to his happy go lucky self. The coach believes the move to Minnesota will do McNabb well (although the Vikings losing Sidney Rice removes a weapon).

McNabb might have competition, though, for the starting QB job. The Vikings drafted FSU’s Christian Ponder with the 12th pick in April’s draft. The rookie tweeted he’s looking forward to learning from McNabb but also ready to compete for the job. One former NFL player tells The Fizz McNabb has a battle on his hands.

“I think he’s going to have to go in there and compete, and I think he should. There’s no way you draft a guy that high and then don’t give him the chance.”
Three main questions have dogged Donovan during his career. Decision-making, accuracy, and competitiveness. The former player tells The Fizz calling McNabb’s accuracy a question is being nice. It’s a problem, not a question.

If McNabb is a competitor, he will easily win the job over Ponder in the preseason and have a bounceback year. Fresh starts have done wonders for aging QB’s recently (Kurt Warner and Brett Favre) and McNabb fans hope #5 will be the next chapter in that story.

With Adrian Peterson behind him and a weapon like Percy Harvin on the outside, he’s set set up to prove critics wrong. Donovan, eat your Chunky’s Soup and make your momma proud, show us you got football left.

Posted: Craig Hoffman
The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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